TWO Hampshire hospital trusts regularly missed cancer waiting time targets over the past two years, data has shown.

The NHS states that 85% of cancer patients urgently referred by a GP should start treatment within 62 days.

But now, NHS England data has shown that University Hospital Southampton (UHS) NHS Foundation Trust only met this target in five months between April 2019 and July this year.

In July, just 71% of patients received cancer treatment within two months of an urgent referral, down from 73% in June and 95% in July 2019.

But a UHS spokesperson said the hospital is “absolutely committed to continually improving to provide the best care”.

They claimed that in recent months the trust, which as a specialist care centre, takes referrals for some of the more complicated treatment pathways, has invested in treatment spaces for cancer patients, improving capacity.

The hospital works with regional partners through the Wessex Cancer Alliance and the spokesperson added: “Although recognising the challenges we are facing, through the Alliance we have contributed to recording some of the highest performance data for waiting times nationally.

“Significantly, the 28-day faster diagnosis standard for July 2021 across Wessex, was above the national average at just over 80 per cent.

“The pandemic meant fewer people sought appointments in 2020 but we are now seeing increasing numbers which means the messages about signs and symptoms of cancer and when to seek advice, are working.”

As well as UHS, the NHS England data also shows that Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust fell behind the target in 13 months between April 2019 and July this year.

In July, 83% of patients received cancer treatment within two months of an urgent referral, the same level as in June and a fall from 92% in July 2020.

A spokesperson for the Trust, said however: “We are committed to ensuring all of our patients receive timely care and are proud that at Hampshire Hospitals cancer care continued throughout the pandemic, however COVID-19 continues to impact how we work.”

They claimed that more patients are being referred to the trust’s cancer services – with around 200 additional referrals a month but added that, the Wessex region holds the lowest number of patients waiting over 62 days in the UK.

They said: “Although we recognise we have a way to go, our staff continue to work incredibly hard to be there for everyone who needs us, and We remain committed to doing all that we can to improve patient wait times.”